This recently in on an Al-Jazeera released film from a militant group in Iraq which claims to be holding four peace workers from Britain, the US and Canada - three Christians and a man from a Sikh background. The kidnappings took place on Saturday. All have been working with the highly commendable Christian Peacemaker Teams, with which Ekklesia is associated in the UK. The charges of spying from what seems to be an insurgency-linked Islamist organisation are wholly untrue - indeed, ironically enough, CPT was in the forefront of exposing the Abu Ghraib scandal. On the current Iraq situation, see this wise comment on Pickled Politics. [The picture shows a CPT intervention in Israel-Palestine to stop soldiers shooting demonstrators]
I knew when I made my post yesterday of the CPT link, but we had to change an initial story on the Ekklesia site because of security concerns. Now both the situation and the evaluation have changed and CPT has made a public statement on its website. Channel 4 News (UK) did actually mention Christian Peacemaker Teams last night at 7pm, and the report was streaming on their site -- so inevitably the link got out. The difficulty is that militants are often unable to distinguish Christians who oppose violence and injustice from those they characterise as 'crusaders' and 'occupiers'. There are also elaborate conspiracy theories circulating all the time in Iraq. Kidnapping is a terrible and common occurence across the country, but especially in Baghdad. Let's hope and pray that the outcome of this one is positive. CPT obviously especially values support at the moment, as do the families of those who are missing.
In a recent 'Statement of Conviction, the long-term CPT Team members stated that they "are aware of the many risks both Iraqis and internationals currently face," and affirmed that the risks did not outweigh their purpose in remaining. They express the hope that "in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening non-violently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation."
CPT does not advocate the use of violent force to save lives of its workers should they be kidnapped, held hostage, or caught in the middle of a conflict situation.
Christian Peacemaker Teams have been present in Iraq since October 2002, providing first-hand, independent reports from the region, working with detainees of both United States and Iraqi forces, and training others in non-violent intervention and human rights documentation. Iraqi friends and human rights workers have welcomed the team as a nonviolent, independent presence and asked that the team tell their stories.
CPT teams host regular delegations of committed peace and human rights activists to conflict zones, who join teams in working with civilians to document abuses and develop nonviolent alternatives to armed conflict. The CPT Iraq Team has hosted a total of 120 people on sixteen delegations over the last three years.
Christian Peacemaker Teams is a violence reduction programme. Units of trained peacemakers work in areas of lethal conflict around the world. In addition to the Iraq Team, teams of CPT workers are currently serving in Barrancabermeja, Colombia; Hebron and At-Tuwani, Palestine; Kenora, Ontario, Canada; and on the Mexico-United States border.
CPT is a multilateral initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers) with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant churches.
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